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‘A Study of Suicide’

‘A Study of Suicide’

(p.145) Chapter Ten ‘A Study of Suicide’
The Alvarez Generation
William Wootten
Liverpool University Press

This chapter presents a reading of A. Alvarez's The Savage God. The book is not chiefly a literary critical study, but is, in the words of its subtitle, ‘A Study of Suicide’. Moreover, while it contains considerable scholarship upon the subject of suicide, it is by no means an impersonal book. The portrait of Plath and her death at its beginning and the corresponding portrait of Alvarez and his own suicide attempt at its end would, with grim inappropriateness, these days be termed ‘life writing’. As Alvarez switches genres, biography becomes central and the poetry peripheral; Plath's significance to the book is as a case study of a suicide as much as a poet. The Savage God is then the decisive step towards the current position, where Plath criticism is overwhelmingly biographical criticism.

Keywords:   The Savage God, A. Alvarez, suicide, biographical criticism, poetry, biography, life writing, poets

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